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Researchers discover Android apps spying on users’ screens

The good news, according to academic researchers, is that your phone most likely isn’t secretly listening to your conversations. The bad news is that fears of Android apps spying on users aren’t totally unfounded.

Computer science researchers at Northeastern University in Boston conducted a massive study of 17,260 Android apps from the Google Play store, as well as third-party marketplaces AppChina, Mi.com and Anzhi. The study, which was published this week in a research paper titled “Panoptispy: Characterizing Audio and Video Exfiltration from Android Applications,” found no evidence that apps were secretly enabling device microphones to record and exfiltrate audio data. However, the research team did find evidence of “several” Android apps spying on users by recording video and images of users’ screens.

“Our study reveals several alarming privacy risks in the Android app ecosystem, including apps that over-provision their media permissions and apps that share image and video data with other parties in unexpected ways, without user knowledge or consent,” the researchers wrote. “We also identify a previously unreported privacy risk that arises from third-party libraries that record and upload screenshots and videos of the screen without informing the user and without requiring any permissions.”

The research team, which used a combination of static and dynamic code analysis, didn’t specify the number of Android apps found spying on users, but the paper did say it was “few” compared to the total number of apps reviewed. “On the one hand, this is good news: a very large fraction of apps are not abusing the ability to record media,” the researchers wrote. “On the other hand, it could also indicate that our analysis missed other cases of media leaks.”

The Northeastern University team cited several examples of popular apps that engaged in unauthorized recording of users’ screens, including GoPuff, a food delivery app. The researchers discovered the app sent captured video via the internet to a domain belonging to web analytics firm Appsee, and that the video recording could include personally identifiable information such as ZIP codes. The researchers said that Appsee’s software required no permissions to record the video and did not issue notifications to users.

The researchers noted that GoPuff was notified of the issue and has since removed the Appsee SDK from its iOS and Android apps and revised its privacy policy, which previously did not disclose any recording or exfiltration of video. The researchers also notified Google, which, according to the paper, said it “took the appropriate actions.” Google Play’s privacy policy requires that app developers disclose to users how their data is collected, shared and used.

Northeastern University’s “Panoptispy” research comes as Google has increased its efforts to curb potential Android app spying. The company previewed the security features of Android P, the newest version of the mobile OS, at the Google I/O conference in May. Android P will only grant access to device sensors such as microphones and cameras to apps in the foreground, preventing potentially harmful apps from running covertly in the background and using sensors to spy on users. However, that particular feature wouldn’t prevent apps like GoPuff from performing unauthorized video exfiltration.

In other news

  • A former employee of NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli company that specializes in spyware and iPhone hacking tools, has reportedly landed in hot water. According to an indictment, Israeli authorities claim an unnamed NSO employee stole the company’s Pegasus spyware product and tried to sell it for $50 million in cryptocurrency. According to reports, the indictment states the disgruntled employee began working for NSO last year as a senior programmer and was granted access to the company’s source code. The indictment also claims the employee posed as a hacker and tried to sell the Pegasus code to other hackers on the dark web; one potential buyer notified NSO of the matter, which investigated the individual with the assistance of law enforcement.
  • Computer scientists from the University of California, Irvine, published research regarding a new attack technique they call “Thermanator,” which records thermal residue on keyboard keys to determine users’ passwords and other sensitive information such as PINs. According to the researchers, a midrange thermal imaging camera could allow threat actors to observe and record keystroke. “Results show that entire sets of key-presses can be recovered by non-expert users as late as 30 seconds after initial password entry, while partial sets can be recovered as late as 1 minute after entry,” the research paper states. While attackers would need to have a clear view of a target’s keyboard, the researchers say the Thermanator attack shows that “using external keyboards to enter (already much-maligned) passwords is even less secure than previously recognized.”
  • A newly discovered update of malware descended from an old Trojan is now equipped with a downloader that can decide whether to mine cryptocurrencies or encrypt files for ransom on victim systems. Kaspersky Lab researchers Egor Vasilenko and Orkhan Mamedov wrote that the new version of the malware, which is related to the Rakhni family of ransomware that Kaspersky Lab uncovered in 2013, checks system attributes before downloading its malicious payload, specifically looking at whether there is a folder named %AppData%Bitcoin. If the folder is present, then the downloader selects the ransomware cryptor; “If the folder doesn’t exist and the machine has more than two logical processors, the miner will be downloaded. If there’s no folder and just one logical processor, the downloader jumps to its worm component,” to continue propagating the malware locally, the researchers wrote. The cryptomining malware mines for the Monero, Monero Original and Dashcoin cryptocurrencies.

Wanted – High end gaming PC

is this any good mate? Youd need to add your choice of GFX card but a good start..

i7 4770K
Gigabyte G1 Sniper Motherboard ( Z87 I think )
16Gb Geil DDR3 2133Mhz ( 2×8 )
850W Superflower Leadx PSU
24x DVDRW
CoolerMaster HAF X case
Samsung EVO 750 120Gb SSD
Cougar Gaming Keyboard
Corsair Mouse

Prolite B2783QSU 2560×1440 freesysnc monitor. Couple of bad scratches on the screen but the screen is fully working.

You’ll need your own version of windows as im going to wipe the SSD. I don’t have the boxes to the main components but I do have the box for the monitor.

Former Army paratrooper lands at Kronos, celebrates community thanks to Microsoft Software & Systems Academy – Microsoft Military Affairs

To Ashish Singh, your network matters. More specifically, your support network.

For the paratrooper medic turned software engineer, that network has always helped him navigate life’s twists and turns. It’s what brought him from Nepal to America when he was 17 years old. It’s what led him to enlist in the U.S. Army. And it’s why he chose to work at Kronos Incorporated—a global leader in workforce management and human capital management software—after graduating from Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA). The rewards have been consistent, and hard-won.

A solid educational foundation eluded Ashish in childhood. “We could barely afford my school,” he says, “and because of political unrest, the school was shut down often.” His mother dreamed of sending Ashish, her only child, to study in America. Eventually, in January 2008, her dream was realized when Ashish and two of his friends were accepted at Ferris State University in Michigan. They arrived with almost nothing—save one another. Even now, Ashish mostly remembers feeling overwhelmed.

“My English was horrible. People would ask me to repeat myself about a thousand times a day,” he says.

Determined to make the most of his opportunity no matter the obstacles, Ashish began to study manufacturing engineering. But after a couple years—during which he pivoted his studies toward computer science and earned a scholarship to study computer engineering—Ashish couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more he wanted to do.

“I’d always wanted to do something great,” he says, “but throughout that time, I felt like I was studying for my family rather than for myself.”

Then, with just one semester remaining in his degree program, Ashish stumbled upon what seemed to him a chance at that greatness: The U.S. Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.

Originally established to enlist foreign nationals in the U.S. military to bolster its foreign language capabilities and improve cultural diversity, the MAVNI program was temporary, Ashish knew; it had been suspended once before. So he chose not to risk waiting until after graduation to enlist. He even hoped to pursue computer engineering after enlisting.

But when a physical exam revealed that Ashish was colorblind and therefore disqualified from pursuing IT in the Army, he was unsure of what to do. He chatted with his bunkmates and discovered they were hoping to become paratroopers. Before long, Ashish was training with them to come to the rescue of their fellow soldiers around the world.

Ashish Singh and Army Sgt. Mario Da Silva in Capri, Italy.
Ashish and Army Sgt. Mario Da Silva exploring Capri while stationed in Italy.

Stationed in Italy, Ashish traveled and trained with allies throughout Europe. Alongside the intensity, Ashish found solidarity and a sense of pride. With support from family, friends, and fellow soldiers, he was doing his “something great.”

Then, after a bad jump on a training route over Germany resulted in a back injury, it came time for Ashish to consider his own health. He and his wife—whom he’d met and married in Latvia—relocated to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. But, despite limiting his physical activity, Ashish’s pain worsened. His wife encouraged him to consider other options, and so his thoughts returned to software engineering.

Through his network of friends and former classmates, Ashish learned about MSSA, a Microsoft Military Affairs program launched in 2013 to help U.S. service members and veterans transition from the military into technology careers. He applied and was accepted into the second MSSA cohort at Fort Bragg, which taught Cloud Application Development.

Now available at 14 military locations nationwide, MSSA can graduate up to 1,000 participants each year. Graduates are guaranteed interviews with Microsoft and/or some of the program’s 280 hiring partners. On average, graduates land IT jobs with annual salaries starting at $70,000.

Amid the demanding coursework, Ashish once again found value in the camaraderie of his cohort. “Even more than the course, we learned from each other,” he says. “We helped each other out, we created and implemented projects together, we attended meetups together.”

They even prepared for interviews together. Ashish applied and interviewed at several of the program’s hiring partners, but Kronos stood out from the start for its culture, which has earned it accolades around the world, including Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work,” and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers.” When it came to deciding which job offer to accept, the community appeal won out.

“We recently asked our interns to count how many potlucks, cakes, dinners, and other activities we’ve had,” Ashish says. “They lost count.”

But even better, he says, is the support to grow professionally. As an MSSA hiring partner, Kronos is committed to helping participants like Ashish effectively transition into a rewarding career—offering support and guidance they might not receive elsewhere. The result is a close partnership that is helping to address the need for more skilled workers in technology while also equipping transitioning service people to thrive in a digital world.

Ashish touring Capri, Italy, with his friends.
Ashish touring Capri, Italy, with his friends.

“Veterans across all branches of the military have honed exceptional skills and abilities that are in high demand for technology companies—including paying careful attention to detail, executing in a high-stress environment, and collaborating to fulfill a mission,” said Kristen Brown, vice president of global talent acquisition at Kronos. “Yet translating what they’ve learned and what they’ve done into corporate speak doesn’t always come naturally in the transition to civilian life. Programs that help veterans develop business-world confidence and open the doors to corporate opportunities are invaluable.”

In his role as a front-end developer, Ashish is generally focused on application modules that impact user experience. But he’s taking advantage of the opportunity to grow in multiple ways. For example, given his background and broad interest in coding, his mentor also gives him opportunities to work on back-end scripting. And to cap it off, he finished his last semester of school, earning his computer science degree online in May 2018.

“With everything going on, I thought I would never graduate,” he says. “But nobody in my family has a degree, so I wanted to be the first one and make my mom proud.” He’s looking forward to walking in the graduation ceremony in December 2018.

“I’m going to walk, just for her,” he says.

Because in the end, it’s always been a team effort.

How to ‘come out’ as an LGBTQ+ ally at work – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I want to help my coworkers feel respected for who they really are. But sometimes I’m not sure what to do or say to show that I’m an ally, and I don’t want to mess up or hurt anyone’s feelings. How can I be a better ally?

Answer: The first step to becoming a better ally is wanting to be one—so you’re on the path already! There are many ways to be an ally in your professional realm, including connecting with coworkers to learn what they face and care about, stepping in when someone isn’t being treated with respect, and educating others. These Microsoft employees, who are all allies or members of the LGBTQ+ community, have some advice.

Know what an ally is and why you should be one

An LGBTQ+ ally is someone who respects equal rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ social movements; stands up for members of the LGBTQ+ community; and challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Allies increase protection, safety, and equality.

“Coming out” as an ally in the workplace sends a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBTQ+ employees, which can help them feel more respected and able to do their work.

Spend a little time thinking about why you want to be an ally—and think about why allies are needed and how you could make a difference, said Andrea Llamas, a senior human resources advisor.

Often, the motivation to be an ally comes from personal stories and connections.

“Everyone has a friend or family member that is part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Llamas said. “To make the world a better place for the people in that community, [we need to get to the place where] sexual orientation or gender identity is not important.”

Once you know why you want to be an ally and what you might want to accomplish by being one—whether it’s as simple as making another person feel comfortable or as big as becoming a vocal advocate for change—you can figure out how to do it.

Set out to learn more

Many people feel unsure of their role as allies in part because they aren’t familiar with the experiences or realities of LGBTQ+ people. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a term means or if you aren’t familiar with an issue. Research is where to start, Llamas said.

“If you don’t have the information you need and if you are curious, ask,” she said.

If you do ask a coworker who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, make sure that you pose your question in a respectful way and perhaps in private. First and foremost, communicate your openness and desire to learn so that you can support.

If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing to LGBTQ+ coworkers—such as using the wrong pronoun—respectfully ask them how they prefer to be addressed or how you should refer to something. You might also ask how they would prefer that people address mistakes when they happen, suggested Michael Tan, a Microsoft manager of a transgender employee.

But don’t rely on LGBTQ+ people to educate you on everything; do your own research. Morty Scanlon, a business program manager, suggests using resources from Straight for Equality, The Human Rights Campaign, and Outstanding to learn more.

Members of Microsoft’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group GLEAM, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft, have helped create resources and workshops for coworkers who want to be allies. Find out whether your company has similar resources, suggest that they be created, or even help compile them, said Scanlon, cochair of GLEAM.

“When people have resources at their disposal, they can see a path toward their own allyship to materialize,” he said.

As you do your research, look at your own assumptions. Take the opportunity to recognize and move past bias. Use these questions as guides:

  • What assumptions have you made?
  • Do you know if they are true?
  • How could you find out?

Show support and speak up

Some gestures by allies might seem small, but they can mean a lot. For example, Llamas said, “Don’t hide any relations you have to someone in the LGBTQ+ community, such as friends or family members.” Talking about your gay brother or transgender cousin the same way that you talk about any family member or friend shows that you value people equally regardless of their identities.

You can also communicate your support in simple ways, such as by putting stickers on your computer or signs at your desk, by attending LGBTQ+ support events, or by joining an advocacy effort. These actions show people who have faced challenges or who have previously not been accepted for who they are that they have your support in little and big ways.

“Remember that there are many ways to let people know that you are an ally,” said Llamas, who serves as the GLEAM Mexico lead.

Being an ally also means speaking up when some voices aren’t heard, when someone is excluded, or when something harmful is said. Listen fully to others’ ideas, contributions, and stories. Intervene when someone is being discounted or ignored or if harmful language is used. If someone has been treated with harm, approach them to see what they need and offer support.

And people who need allies themselves can also be an ally to others, Scanlon said.

“In the same way that allies are essential to the LGBTQ+ community, we also have a responsibility to be allies for others. The lessons I’ve learned in working to be a better ally to the transgender community are lessons that I can apply to evolve my allyship beyond my own community and apply more broadly to the workplace: examining my assumptions, listening to understand, identifying and addressing my blind spots, and being brave.”

Let empathy lead

When Michael Tan, director of strategy, learned that a member of his team was transgender and would be transitioning, he set out to determine how he could help.

“My first role was trying to make sure that the work environment would respond appropriately and that people were respectful,” he said.

But he didn’t immediately know how to be an ally.

“I was in the camp initially where you’re so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I saw other people also so afraid of saying the wrong thing or using the wrong pronoun that they took the path of least resistance and didn’t reach out at all.”

Tan invited the Ingersoll Gender Center to talk to his group. The speakers shared firsthand experiences, background about the transgender community in the workplace, common challenges transgender employees often face, and guidance on how to be supportive.

Listening directly to people’s experiences sparked empathy, Tan said. However you can, seek out others’ stories—they will help you feel connected.

Try to understand the emotional journey that someone else goes through, he said. It’s a powerful display of support “to find out, and then do, what they need to feel comfortable.”

What being welcomed at work looks like – Microsoft Life

Building your career is a journey filled with challenges, excitement, and forks in the road. And journeys are easier with maps. In this column, job experts answer your questions and deliver advice to help you take the next step.

Question: I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s important to me to work at a place that accepts me for who I am. What’s the best way to figure that out, even before I apply?

Answer: When you choose a job, you’re choosing more than the actual work you’ll do. You’re becoming part of a whole culture: the environment around you, the coworkers and leaders, and the role the company plays in the broader world. Our workplace becomes a significant part of our lives. And how we feel there can influence our focus, our ideas, and our sense of well-being.

As Claudia del Hierro, a senior program manager at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, puts it, “You’re going to live that culture every single day.”

Whether you’re actively seeking a new job or casually curious about what other companies are like, how do you decipher if a workplace is somewhere all employees, including those who are LGBTQ+, feel supported? We spoke with a few employees who have sought that answer for themselves. Here are their tips and advice.

Investigate the company’s track record

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) releases an annual Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool that tracks corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ+ people. Checking that index is a good place to start, del Hierro said.

“Is the company you want to work for rated? What’s its score? That alone tells you a lot about the culture. Some companies have jumped on the LGBTQ+ train for marketing or to gain consumers but don’t really live those values,” she said. “HRC digs into policies so you can assess more deeply.”

Don’t stop there, said Sera Fernando, an assistant Microsoft store manager in Santa Clara, California, who identifies as a trans female. Fernando already worked at Microsoft when she made the decision to transition. At the same time, a transgender friend of hers was also interested in the company and was asking her about its culture. Fernando set out to learn more about how the company approached transgender people, employees, and issues. She began to research both internally, where she found Microsoft’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group GLEAM, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft and includes the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum and their allies, and externally, where she found helpful news coverage.

“Read news stories. Enter all the search terms. See what comes up. Do the research,” said Fernando, now the community codirector of GLEAM.

See how the company shows up

Supporting and participating in local and national Pride events and parades does not guarantee a welcoming workplace year-round, but it’s a clue, said Dena Y. Lawrence, a pre-sales manager for Microsoft in Dublin.

“When you’re out at a Pride parade, see which companies are showing up. You can see from a public corporate perspective which ones have embraced LGBTQ+ equality.”

Once you know whether a company lends its support publicly to the LGBTQ+ community, look closer, Fernando adds. Does the company advocate for equity, at events and in the public sphere?

“Are all LGBTQ+ groups being represented—nonbinary, genderqueer, transgender, intersex? Are those stories being shown and told? Are there signs that the company is in tune with the message year-round? Are they just rainbow-fying everything, or are there deeper commitments? What is the senior leadership team doing and saying—what is its involvement? Is it involved in the initiatives? How is the company amplifying efforts?”

See how it recruits

Beyond celebratory events, look at marketing.

Pay attention to how and where a company recruits, said Lawrence, who has served on Microsoft’s GLEAM board and has created a talk on how to assess how progressive a company is.

“Has a company taken the time and initiative to find advertising space in LGBTQ+ specific magazines or digital channels?” If so, she said, it’s an indication of a commitment to make those employees feel welcome and supported and to ensure that the company is recruiting all types of employees, she said.

See what it offers

Look as closely as you can at a company’s policies and benefits. Is there equity for LGBTQ+ employees? Are there family benefits and medical benefits that support the needs of LGBTQ+ employees?

“Go into the policies. Ask Human Resources for links to the benefits. Look closely at the language around leave, parental leave—does the language refer only to male and female partners? Updating that language means the organization has already done a lot of work internally to transform,” Lawrence said.

“If there are antidiscrimination policies that call out sexual orientation and—the holy grail—gender identity, then they have the core ingredients for inclusion.”

Talk to employees

If you have friends or networking connections who can put you in contact with employees—especially those who are LGBTQ+—grab the chance to talk with them.

“They live the culture every day. What’s on paper might not be the reality. Sometimes the reality is even better; sometimes it’s not,” said del Hierro, who serves as GLEAM’s Latin American director.

“Do they have an employee resource group that’s active? Could you be visible in that space if you wanted to be? Find people who are thriving; see what that looks like,” said Fernando.

See how the company responds to you

Don’t hesitate to ask directly in an interview about how the company supports diversity and inclusion. Take note of how those questions are received.

“There are so many companies embracing diversity and inclusion—you don’t want to work for a company where you can’t be who you are, in this day and age,” Lawrence said.

And if a company won’t support and welcome you, del Hierro said, you probably don’t want to work there.

“I was the cofounder for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, and I started my college’s LGBTQ+ alumni chapter. It’s on my CV because it’s important to me and relevant to my experience. If someone won’t consider me because of that, then I would not want the job.”

How to tackle an email archive migration for Exchange Online

Problem solve
Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

A move from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 also entails determining the best way to transfer legacy archives. This tutorial can help ease migration complications.


A move to Office 365 seems straightforward enough until project planners broach the topic of the email archive…

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migration.

Not all organizations keep all their email inside their messaging platform. Many organizations that archive messages also keep a copy in a journal that is archived away from user reach for legal reasons.

The vast majority of legacy archive migrations to Office 365 require third-party tools and must follow a fairly standardized process to complete the job quickly and with minimal expense. Administrators should migrate mailboxes to Office 365 first and then the archive for the fastest way to gain benefits from Office 365 before the archive reingestion completes.

An archive product typically scans mailboxes for older items and moves those to longer term, cheaper storage that is indexed and deduplicated. The original item typically gets replaced with a small part of the message, known as a stub or shortcut. The user can find the email in their inbox and, when they open the message, an add-in retrieves the full content from the archive.

Options for archived email migration to Office 365

The native tools to migrate mailboxes to Office 365 cannot handle an email archive migration. When admins transfer legacy archive data for mailboxes, they usually consider the following three approaches:

  1. Export the data to PST archives and import it into user mailboxes in Office 365.
  2. Reingest the archive data into the on-premises Exchange mailbox and then migrate the mailbox to Office 365.
  3. Migrate the Exchange mailbox to Office 365 first, then perform the email archive migration to put the data into the Office 365 mailbox.

Option 1 is not usually practical because it takes a lot of manual effort to export data to PST files. The stubs remain in the user’s mailbox and add clutter.

Option 2 also requires a lot of labor-intensive work and uses a lot of space on the Exchange Server infrastructure to support reingestion.

That leaves the third option as the most practical approach, which we’ll explore in a little more detail.

Migrate the mailbox to Exchange Online

When you move a mailbox to Office 365, it migrates along with the stubs that relate to the data in the legacy archive. The legacy archive will no longer archive the mailbox, but users can access their archived items. Because the stubs usually contain a URL path to the legacy archive item, there is no dependency on Exchange to view the archived message.

Some products that add buttons to restore the individual message into the mailbox will not work; the legacy archive product won’t know where Office 365 is without further configuration. This step is not usually necessary because the next stage is to migrate that data into Office 365.

Transfer archived data

Legacy archive solutions usually have a variety of policies for what happens with the archived data. You might configure the system to keep the stubs for a year but make archive data accessible via a web portal for much longer.

There are instances when you might want to replace the stub with the real message. There might be data that is not in the user’s mailbox as a stub but that users want on occasion.

We need tools that not only automate the data migration, but also understand these differences and can act accordingly.

We need tools that not only automate the data migration, but also understand these differences and can act accordingly. The legacy archive migration software should examine the data within the archive and then run batch jobs to replace stubs with the full messages. In this case, you can use the Exchange Online archive as a destination for archived data that no longer has a stub.

Email archive migration software connects via the vendor API. The software assesses the items and then exports them into a common temporary format — such as an EML file — on a staging server before connecting to Office 365 over a protocol such as Exchange Web Services. The migration software then examines the mailbox and replaces the stub with the full message.

migration dashboard
An example of a third-party product’s dashboard detailing the migration progress of a legacy archive into Office 365.

Migrate journal data

With journal data, the most accepted approach is to migrate the data into the hidden recoverable items folder of each mailbox related to the journaled item. The end result is similar to using Office 365 from the day the journal began, and eDiscovery works as expected when following Microsoft guidance.

For this migration, the software scans the journal and creates a database of the journal messages. The application then maps each journal message to its mailbox. This process can be quite extensive; for example, an email sent to 1,000 people will map to 1,000 mailboxes.

After this stage, the software copies each message to the recoverable items folder of each mailbox. While this is a complicated procedure, it’s alleviated by software that automates the job.

Legacy archive migration offerings

There are many products tailored for an email archive migration. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. I won’t recommend a specific offering, but I will mention two that can migrate more than 1 TB a day, which is a good benchmark for large-scale migrations. They also support chain of custody, which audits the transfer of all data

TransVault has the most connectors to legacy archive products. Almost all the migration offerings support Enterprise Vault, but if you use a product that is less common, then it is likely that TransVault can move it. The TransVault product accesses source data either via an archive product’s APIs or directly to the stored data. TransVault’s service installs within Azure or on premises.

Quadrotech Archive Shuttle fits in alongside a number of other products suited to Office 365 migrations and management. Its workflow-based process automates the migration. Archive Shuttle handles fewer archive sources, but it does support Enterprise Vault. Archive Shuttle accesses source data via API and agent machines with control from either an on-premises Archive Shuttle instance or, as is more typical, the cloud version of the product.

Dig Deeper on Exchange Online administration and implementation

Wanted – LGA 1155 Motherboard

Hi,

The MSI bundle is available, I archived the original topic after the board was returned and I had issued the refund.

I also have an ASUS P8Z68-V Pro GEN3 bundle for sale on the forum at the moment, this bundle includes an i5-2500k CPU and 8gb of RAM.

Thorough Exchange Server testing regimen eliminates doubt


You’ve done your due diligence and bought the right hardware for your move to Exchange Server 2016. After you put…

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all the pieces together, then it’s time for a thorough Exchange Server testing regimen.

A few factors have many organizations that use on-premises Exchange planning a move to Exchange Server 2016. Exchange Server 2010 has less than two years before it leaves extended support. Exchange Server 2013 left mainstream support this year.

After the decision to move to Exchange 2016, the next stage of planning process should have involved using the Exchange Server role requirements calculator to size your deployment, creating a suitable design, then purchasing and installing the hardware to support your implementation. But this is only part of the overall effort.

There are vital areas you must test in the time after implementing Exchange Server 2016 and before migrating mailboxes. As part of the overall Exchange Server testing strategy, you should check the functionality of the storage infrastructure next.

Using Jetstress to test storage performance

Whether you run Exchange Server on physical hardware and follow Microsoft’s preferred architecture or you use virtual infrastructure, make sure your storage meets the IOPS requirements outlined in the Exchange Server role requirements calculator.

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A walkthrough of an Exchange Server 2016 installation

The calculator recommends the RAM and storage needed. The organization determines what type of disks to purchase and their size. However, it’s possible to buy the wrong type of disk controller or to receive a faulty drive. Eliminate any doubt about the hardware and run tests on the storage.

For this segment of Exchange Server testing, use Jetstress to generate a workload with the same Exchange Server 2016 binaries, database and log file configuration used in the Exchange Server deployment. Microsoft also supplies a Jetstress field guide to follow when planning your storage test. Microsoft developed the instructions for Exchange Server 2013, but it is supported and applicable to Exchange Server 2016.

Jetstress test
The Jetstress application checks the stability and performance of the storage infrastructure of an Exchange Server deployment.

Some might say this test is a waste of time if you purchased correctly sized hardware, but it’s better to get confirmation. Jetstress can fail the storage hardware due to a configuration error or some other reason, which may involve extensive troubleshooting.

After you implement Exchange Server 2016

Although every Exchange deployment differs slightly, there are key areas worth checking to avoid any surprises.

After the servers pass the Jetstress test, start your deployment of Exchange Server 2016. What is right for your organization will vary, but in most circumstances, admins implement a database availability group (DAG) with the Exchange mailbox servers along with the appropriate load balancing and, where appropriate, backup software.

What Exchange admins need is a checklist to verify all the settings before you go live. Although every Exchange deployment differs slightly, there are key areas worth checking to avoid any surprises.

Set up Exchange for basic tests

You should test the Exchange 2016 infrastructure at a high level to verify its status. At this point, it’s unlikely you have migrated the client access role across, so you might need to reconfigure the local host files on your test clients to run these trials.

Area

Test activity

User accounts

Create test mailboxes in each data center on Exchange 2016.

User accounts

Create test mailboxes in each DAG on Exchange 2010.

Client

Configure host file records to simulate connectivity to Exchange 2016 load balancers.

OWA 2016

Test Outlook on the web/Outlook Web App (OWA) login functionality for an Exchange 2016 user in each data center.

OWA 2016

Test reading, opening and replying to emails for an Exchange 2016 user in each data center.

OWA 2016

Test creating, updating and modifying a calendar item for an Exchange 2016 user in each data center.

OWA 2016

Test creating, updating and modifying a contact item for an Exchange 2016 user in each data center.

OWA 2016

Test disabling user access to OWA for security purposes.

Email

Test mail flow between Exchange 2016 users in each data center.

Email

Test mail flow to an Exchange 2016 user in each data center from Exchange 2010 in each data center.

Email

Test mail flow to an Exchange 2016 user in each data center from an external source.

Email

Test mail flow from an Exchange 2016 user to an Exchange 2010 user.

Email

Test external out-of-office settings of an Exchange 2016 user from an external source.

Federation

Test availability of an Exchange 2016 mailbox from an external partner.

Federation

Test availability of an external partner’s mailbox from Exchange 2016.

Exchange general

Test mailbox move functionality from Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2016 in each DAG.

Exchange general

Test mailbox move functionality from Exchange 2016 to Exchange 2010 in each DAG.

Testing each database availability group

After you complete these basic checks, you should run tests with the following PowerShell cmdlets against each DAG to check mailbox services.

Area

Test activity

Service health

Use Test-ServiceHealth to verify services are running.

Service health

Use Get-HealthReport to check if each server is healthy.

Mail flow

Use Test-Mailflow to test the mail flow against each server.

Mail flow

Use Test-SmtpConnectivity to test connectivity to each receive connector.

Mailbox

Use Test-ReplicationHealth to validate the DAG continuous replication status.

Mailbox

Use Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus to view the health of the database copies within the DAG.

Mailbox

Use Test-MapiConnectivity to verify MAPI and LDAP work with a user’s login.

Mailbox

Use Test-AssistantHealth to check that the Mailbox Assistants service is running and healthy against each server.

Client access

Use the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer to execute the Outlook connectivity tests.

Client access

Use Test-WebServicesConnectivity to test client connectivity to Exchange Web Services virtual directories against each server.

Client access

Use Test-ActiveSyncConnectivity to simulate a full synchronization with a mobile device.

Client access

Use a browser to log on to the Exchange Admin Center to verify functionality of all Exchange 2016 servers.

Client access

Use Test-MRSHealth to verify that the Mailbox Replication service is running and that it responds to a remote procedure call ping check.

High availability

Validate that the passive copy of databases in the same data center comes online automatically after a failure of a database.

High availability

Validate that the services that are running in the secondary data center continue to operate without any interruption after failing all the servers within the DAG in the primary data center.

High availability

Manually remove a disk from a passive database to test if auto reseed works as expected. Reverse the process to return the disks to the original state.

High availability

Perform a cold start of the DAG to validate that the DAG will start correctly if a major outage occurs.

Load balancer

Disable all load balanced servers for each server in turn within the same data center. Validate client access and mail flow for mailboxes hosted on failed servers.

Load balancer

Disable all load balanced services within the first data center. Validate client access and mail flow for mailboxes hosted on the failed data center.

Load balancer

Disable all load balanced services within the secondary data center. Validate client access and mail flow for mailboxes hosted on the failed data center.

Backups

Use Get-MailboxDatabase to validate the right setting for circular logging: disabled if using backup software or enabled if there is no backup software installed.

Backups

Perform a full backup of each mailbox database.

Backups

Perform an incremental backup of each mailbox database.

Backups

Restore a full database to a temporary location and recover a mailbox.

Backups

Restore a full database to the original location and mount it.

Unified messaging

Test leaving a voicemail to an Exchange 2016 mailbox.

Unified messaging

Test receiving a voicemail in an Exchange 2016 mailbox via the Outlook client.

Unified messaging

Test receiving a voicemail in an Exchange 2016 mailbox via Play on Phone.

Unified messaging

Test access to Outlook Voice Access in Exchange 2016.

Unified messaging

Test instant messaging sign-in to Exchange 2016.

Unified messaging

Test Skype for Business meeting scheduling in OWA.

Check client connectivity

In the final stage of Exchange Server testing, you should examine client connectivity. If the Exchange system passes all the previous tests, then basic connectivity is most likely fine. It’s important to run a full set of tests using the builds of the clients the end users will use.

Your checklist might vary from the one below to include the different Outlook versions and mobile devices to test.

Area

Test Activity

Outlook 2016

Test before/after migration experience.

Outlook 2016

Test Autodiscover in Exchange 2016.

Outlook 2016

Test cached mode access via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test offline address book download functionality via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test Exchange Web Services — free, busy, out of office — functionality via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test Outlook Anywhere functionality via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test mail send/receive/synchronization via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test open additional mailbox functionality via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Outlook 2016

Test open additional on-premises mailbox functionality via Exchange 2016 in each data center.

Mobile device

Test Autodiscover functionality in Exchange 2016 in each DAG.

Mobile device

Test ActiveSync synchronization in Exchange 2016 in each DAG.

Skype for Business client

Test Exchange access after migration to Exchange 2016.

As you test, record the results for reference purposes. For example, you may wish to:

  • collect screenshots or screen recordings as you test;
  • work with a colleague to help oversee the testing process and sign off on the checklist; and
  • there may be other areas to resolve, so add a column to add notes for any remediation actions before retesting the environment.

Further investigation required for a full test

This list is just a starting point. Consider if you need to refine the checklist to fit your specific needs. Perhaps you need to add tests to cover aspects like Office 365 hybrid or public folder migrations.

This article should be a useful start for administrations about to embark on an Exchange Server 2016 deployment.

2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in photos: A SearchCIO snapshot

It’s time to turn your digital vision into reality — and fast. That was the message at the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. The annual event attracted more than 900 senior-level IT decision-makers from around the country and the globe for what organizers billed as a day of learning, networking and spirited discussion.

Sessions at the event featured leading IT practitioners and academics, all doling out practical advice for planning and executing a digital transformation strategy. Of course, that meant discussing the building blocks of digital transformation: AI, internet of things, cloud computing, Agile, DevOps, organizational leadership, digital culture and more.

The SearchCIO team was there to cover — and capture — it.

Scroll through our Instagram roundup of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and relive a few of the many illuminating and interesting moments from this year’s event.

8:35 a.m.: Before the opening panel session, Kresge Auditorium

Let the Symposium begin.

Prior to the opening panel session, attendees perused the vendor showcase in Kresge and reviewed the day’s schedule, with complimentary totes in hand.

8:45 a.m.: “Creating a Digital Culture,” Kresge Auditorium

MIT’s George Westerman moderated the opening panel on how to best create a digital culture. As Westerman and the panel emphasized, digital transformation is, above all, a leadership challenge. “Technology changes quickly; organizations change much more slowly,” Westerman said at the start of the panel.

One of many interesting tidbits: Panelists said organizations need to change their outlook on talent. “The right people often look wrong,” said Melissa Swift, global leader for digital solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group. The traits that might seem jarring to corporate executives may well be the ones the company needs to build a digital culture. Iconoclasts, not clones, should get a second look.

12:00 p.m.: “Insights from the Leadership Award Finalists,” Sala De Puerto Rico

As attendees munched on their salads, MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award finalists doled out sage advice on how they’ve transformed their organizations. Some sound bites from the session:

“Our job as CIOs is really more of psychologists or priests,” said Atefeh Riazi, assistant secretary-general and chief information technology officer at the United Nations. She emphasized it’s not technology that’s the biggest challenge; it’s change management.

“Innovation is about doing the same thing differently,” said Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of digital at Bharti Airtel Ltd.

“Understand the context many senior executives are under,” said Mike Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc. Older executives aren’t as familiar with technology, so CIOs need to have patience.

1:15 p.m.: “Implementing AI,” Kresge Little Theater

What two words best describe your AI implementation efforts at this time? The blue screen shows how audience members sitting in the “Implementation AI” session responded. Hype and slow were two of the top words, followed by ethically challenged and limited. Panelists, pictured here, are moderator Michael Schrage, Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard, Kayak CTO Giorgos Zacharia and DBS Bank CIO David Gledhill.

1:45 p.m.: Lights, camera, action! Outside Kresge Auditorium

SearchCIO’s Mekhala Roy interviewed Harmeen Mehta, global CIO at Indian telecom giant Airtel and this year’s Leadership Award winner, outside Kresge — one of our many video interviews. During the interview, Mehta said everything she does in her organization has to create new value for the company, create a new business model, solve an existing problem or drastically reduce costs.

2:45 p.m.: “Building the Intelligent Enterprise using AI, ML, Mobility and Cloud Services,” Kresge Auditorium

During this session, panelists shared the hard-won lessons they learned from transforming their organizations into so-called intelligent enterprises. One lesson from Alston Ghafourifar, CEO and co-founder of Entefy Inc.: “An intelligent enterprise is too big of a transformation to actually do alone and to do entirely internal … you have to partner.” They also discussed best practices for managing large data sets, which include taking advantage of edge computing and Lambda architecture.

4:00 p.m.: “Articulating your Digital Vision,” Kresge Auditorium

During her presentation, Jeanne Ross, director and principal research scientist at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, said IT needs to shift from enabling business strategy to inspiring it. Enabling is no longer enough anymore; IT needs to inspire new sources of revenue and new value propositions. The sources of that inspiration include ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive processing power.

For more photos from the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and other conference coverage, visit our Instagram page and give us a follow.